7 important questions to ask as you plan your retirement
Working out what you want to do in retirement isn’t easy. There are so many options. Here are seven questions that may help you plan yours.
1. What would your ideal retirement look like?
Take time to think through what you want from your retirement. What do you want to do? What do you want to achieve? What are your priorities? Thinking about what others are doing may help, but don’t copy them unless it’s something you want to do. This is your retirement.
This is a good time to find a quiet place and record your thoughts—pen and paper works as well as anything else. Taking a walk through the bush or along a beach may stoke your creative juices. Do what works for you.
This is important. Why not invest a day or two to allow you time to assess your thoughts? There are no limits at this stage. Dream big.
2. What realities do you need to allow for?
This is where you do a reality check. If you’re carrying a sports injury from a decade or two ago, is your plan to go trekking in Nepal realistic? Or do you have the finances to winter on the ski slopes at Aspen for a month each year?
This isn’t about killing the dream, but reshaping it so it’s achievable. It will probably mean doing some homework. For instance, if photography is a hobby you want to develop (that’s a word from the days of film), what courses could you take? What equipment will you need? What are the costs? What kind of photography (nature, people, street, and so on) interests you?
What can you do now, before retirement, to help make these dreams happen then?
3. What are your priorities in retirement?
What’s important to you? That could range from making sure you have enough money to live comfortably, to staying healthy, to prioritising your bucket list.
It could be giving back to the community in some way; learning a trade or gaining a degree; or mentoring. Do you find travel, life experiences, or social involvement calling you?
You will most likely have too many ‘important’ things on your list to do them all. Prioritising helps you know what is most important.
4. Who are the most important people in your retirement?
For those married, it’s easy to say, ‘my spouse’ and go no further. But we all need people in our life—that’s more than one person.
How will you develop relationships you have with family members? What about friends? Do you belong to a group? How will you show support there?
What relationships do you already have that are worth developing into something more meaningful and precious? We need people in our life.
5. What would you like to accomplish in retirement?
We Baby Boomers are redefining retirement. It’s no longer ‘reach retirement age, stop work, and that’s it’—that’s the retirement of yesterday. Most of us are living too long to merely stop doing significant things.
So many of us still want to make a difference and to live a fulfilling life. So the question is real: What do you want to achieve in your retirement life?
6. How would you like to be remembered?
You know, what do you want people to say at your funeral? What do you want those closest to you—your family—to say about you? Your friends?
Your retirement years could be up to a third of your life, how do you want to impact on those who know you best? Asking that question may help you design a very satisfying life.
7. What can you work on now?
No matter how far you are away from retirement, it’s worth taking the time to think about what you can do now that will be helpful for then. It could be finances—developing a plan or making sure you’re on track. It could be thinking about where you’re going to live. It could be deciding about part-time work. And so on.
It’s worth asking these questions well before downing tools. They’ll not only help you plan for retirement but will help you be ready for when you do retire.